UK government, Arm ink deal to boost chip security

£36 million in funding has been handed over to protect business technologies.

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The UK government has announced a partnership with Arm to develop cybersecurity solutions for hardware used by businesses. 

On Friday, the government said £36 million has been issued in funding to the British semiconductor giant for the purpose of "strengthening cybersecurity measures for businesses and the public."

The project will take place over the next five years. Processor security designs will be tested by academics in the country, including those hailing from Cambridge University and Edinburgh University. 

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Arm said the first challenge is to create prototype hardware, dubbed the "Morello Board," and to test architecture designs using the University of Cambridge's CHERI protection model.

However, no further details have been disclosed at this time. 

The funding round is part of the government's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, a scheme backed by technology vendors including Google and Microsoft. The overall investment allocation, made through the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF), is worth £496.8 million.

A business in the United Kingdom -- including SMBs -- faced an average cost of £4,180 after a successful cyberattack in 2018. The stakes are even higher now with the introduction of the EU's GDPR, which can result in heavy fines if companies are found to have put customer data at risk due to inadequate security. 

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Regular credential changes and perimeter security can mitigate attack risks, but security at the hardware level may be able to further secure the devices and networks businesses rely upon today. 

"This project has the potential to prevent hackers from remotely taking control of computer systems as well as targeting cyberattacks and breaches, meaning more businesses providing online services are better protected," the government added. "It will also create new business opportunities and help boost productivity."

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A further project backed by the SPF has received £18 million in funding. The investment is due to be used to develop ways to tackle disinformation and fake news online, with a particular focus on privacy abuses and online fraud -- as well as other digital dangers outlined in the government's Online Harms paper. 

"It's critical that we are ahead of the game and developing new technologies and methods to confront future threats, supporting our businesses and giving them peace of mind to deliver their products and services safely," said UK Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom.

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